With warm days and cooling nights, fall presents the perfect time to plant wildflowers and other native plants. Fall plantings mimic the natural lifecycle when flowers begin to fade, produce seed and drop that seed onto the ground. Fall plantings can allow for earlier blooms the following spring, which is particularly appealing to anyone who lives in a region with short summers and long winters.
Always keep in mind that the better you prepare the area, the better results your planting will yield. Before sowing seeds, clear the area as well as possible to remove existing growth. Seeds will sprout and take hold best when sown into bare soil. Sow the seeds, and then cover the seed with a layer of mulch to encourage germination. For transplants, remove vegetation before digging the planting hole. And don’t forget to water seeds and transplants well and keep them moist.
Wildflower seed mix makes it easy to sow this fall
To encourage fall planting, American Meadows created an exclusive wildflower mix called Fall Maximum Wildflower Seed Mix. The company began formulating this seed mix about 10 years ago, and it quickly became a customer favorite for fall seeding. Featuring a minimum of 35 different annual and perennial species, the mix is ‘tweaked’ each year based on customer feedback on what grows well and what flowers gardeners prefer. The Fall Maximum Wildflower Seed Mix is 100% pure flower seed that is lab tested to ensure the highest quality seeds.
This year’s Fall Max Mix contains 36 different annual and perennial species. It will provide annual color in the first growing season from favorites such as Papaver rhoeas (Red Poppy), Gaillardia (Indian Blanket), Tropaelum (Nasturtium), Lobularia (Sweet Alyssum) and Cosmos (Sensation Mix and Sulphur). A nice assortment of perennials including Chrysanthemum (Daisy), Echinacea (Purple Coneflower), Rudbeckia (Black-eyed Susan) and Lupinus (Perennial Lupine) provide non-stop color in the second and successive seasons. A half-pound package of Fall Maximum Wildflower Seed Mix, which covers 1,000-1,500 square feet, sells for $14.95 from www.AmericanMeadows.com.
Another popular seed mixture is the Dry Area Wildflower Mix which features flowers that require very little water and grow well in sandy or well-drained soil. The Dry Area Mix includes a hardy blend of 25 different annual and perennial wildflowers. The annuals, such as Coreopsis tinctoria (Plains Coreopsis), Dimorphotheca sinuate (African Daisy), Papaver rhoeas (Red Poppy) and Gaillardia (Indian Blanket) provide quick first-season color. The perennials such as Dianthus (Sweet William), Chrysanthemum (Daisy), Rudbeckia (Black-eyed Susan) and Linum (Blue Flax) burst with color in the second and successive seasons. This mix does very well when planted in the fall. A one-pound package of Dry Area Wildflower Mix, which covers 2,000-3,000 square feet, sells for $26.95 from www.AmericanMeadows.com. For helpful tips for a successful fall wildflower planting, visit Fall Is For Wildflowers.
Plants for an authentic prairie wildflower garden
You can also create a pollinator-friendly, drought-resistant habitat with starter plants of North American natives. Prairie Moon Nursery offers authentic native plants that attract pollinators such as bees, butterflies and hummingbirds. “These are the real plants that filled the prairies more than 200 years ago, before this country was settled, and we are working to preserve them” says Bill Carter, President of Prairie Moon Nursery. “Native plants are what native pollinators depend upon for food and habitat.”
Prairie Moon’s Mix & Match Potted Plant Tray lets you create your own native wildflower garden with up to six species of perennial wildflowers. Select wildflowers that can stretch the season with vibrant color, choose an assortment of flowers and grasses for a natural prairie look, or simply create a mix of your favorite North American native plants specific to your sun and soil conditions. The Mix & Match Potted Plant Tray includes 38 plants and sells for $129 exclusively from Prairie Moon Nursery, www.PrairieMoon.com, 866-417-8156. Pre-order this fall and the plants will be shipped in May 2015 for transplanting into your garden.
A tough, low-growing native plant that has become a favorite for its yellow flowers is called Sundrops (Calylophus hartwegii). ‘High Plains Yellow’ Sundrops is a new, long-blooming wildflower introduction that was originally collected from the rugged, western Great Plains. This tough little native perennial is well adapted to heat, cold, wind and drought, and it thrives in harsh conditions that kill other plants. Colorful, red speckled buds burst open to revel large, brilliant yellow flowers. ‘High Plains Yellow’ Sundrops only reaches 4-6” tall and 12-15” wide, and it makes a superb companion plant for Lavender and other native plants. It is cold hard throughout USDA Zones 5-9. Each plant in a 2.5-inch standard pot sells for $9.99. Available exclusively from www.highcountrygardens.com.
Attract hummingbirds with dazzling penstemons
Penstemons are favorite North American native plants that are adored for their attractive flowers. Typical penstemon flower stalks grow 24 to 36 inches tall. But ‘Dazzler Blend’ Penstemon grows just 12 inches tall, and it gets its name from the dazzling blend of pink and purple tones of its blossoms and from the vast array of flying beauty it attracts. Gardeners will find hummingbirds sipping nectar from the tubular flowers while happy little bee butts protrude from every blossom, signifying the abundance of nectar and pollen that ‘Dazzler Blend’ Penstemon provides to pollinators of all kinds.
‘Dazzler Blend’ is great for cut flowers and, unlike many perennials, will re-bloom after cutting. This penstemon provides reliable color and hardiness in zones 3-8, where it’s at home in just about any well-drained, full-sun location. ‘Dazzler Blend’ is a great addition to rock gardens, pollinator habitats, borders, wildflower gardens and containers. A packet of seeds sells for $2.39 from Botanical Interests, 877-821-4340 or www.botanicalinterests.com.